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December 1, 2012
Vol. 70
No. 4

Double Take

Research Alert

A Higher Bar to Exit

States with high school exit exams are embracing higher standards on those exams, a fact that has big implications for both schools and students. In its 11th annual report on high school exit exams, the Center on Education Policy discusses the present and future status of exit exam policies.
The report reaches three broad conclusions. First, high school exit exams remain a substantial force in education policy. Twenty-five states administered exit exams in the 2011–12 school year, and a 26th state (Rhode Island) is planning to implement an exit exam for the class of 2014. Nearly 7 of 10 U.S. students, and an even larger share of students of color, attend schools in states with exit exams.
Second, exit exams are becoming assessments of college and career readiness. The report found that most states with exit exams that have also adopted the Common Core State Standards plan to replace their current exit exams in English language arts and math with assessments aligned to the new standards. Most of these states expect that their new assessments will be more rigorous than current ones.
Finally, although the success of exit exam policies remains questionable, state policymakers can learn a great deal from states' past experiences implementing such policies. The report found that successful implementation of a new exit exam policy often depends on states' willingness to maintain the support of key state leaders and the public, implement the new policies over several years rather than all at once, and make a full financial commitment.
State High School Exit Exams: A Policy in Transition was written by Shelby McIntosh from the Center on Education Policy. The full report is available at www.cep-dc.org/displayDocument.cfm?DocumentID=408.

World Spin

A Brighter Way to Build Achievement

In Finland, building student achievement may start with the building itself. The country is moving away from factory-style schools to more contemporary campuses that feature people-friendly buildings laid out in clusters, with multiple gathering places inside and out. Some of the newer schools offer floor-to-ceiling windows intended to fill the classrooms with natural light, upper-story classrooms that look out on first-floor atriums, and playgrounds that face east to maximize sun exposure during morning recess. Exposure to natural light and views of the outdoors have been associated with higher achievement.

Relevant Reads

The Core Six: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core by Harvey F. Silver, R. Thomas Dewing, and Matthew J. Perini (2012)
Silver, Dewing, and Perini describe six research-based practices that provide a focus for reshaping curriculum around the new standards—particularly the English language arts and literacy standards. Teachers can learn how to help students develop the skills they need to make sense of rigorous texts, conduct comparative text analyses, develop academic writing skills, and master crucial vocabulary terms. The book's Circle of Knowledge strategic framework helps teachers plan and conduct classroom discussions that engage all students in deeper thinking and thoughtful communication.
For more information about recent ASCD books related to the Common Core State Standards, go to .

Numbers of Note

68 The percentage of U.S. K–12 teachers surveyed who have seen, read, or heard about the Common Core State Standards who have a favorable impression of them (up from 59 percent in August 2011).
79 The percentage of U.S. registered voters surveyed who said they "have heard not much or nothing at all" about the Common Core State Standards.

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Resources for Understanding the Common Core


The curriculum that fleshes out the Common Core standards will, in the end, determine how teachers, parents, and students actually experience them.
<ATTRIB>—Tom Loveless, p. 60</ATTRIB>

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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